I really love living in Northern California. I live an hour away from the ocean and a couple hours away from the mountains. Not many places have beautiful beaches and amazing ski resorts within a couple hours from each other. I also live in one of the greatest places for agriculture. I'm less than 30 minutes away from wine country, and every imaginable fruit and vegetable is raised in the area. I can get amazing strawberries, artichokes, olive oils, fresh pastured meats, and fresh fish...all within an hours drive from my house.
The one thing I really don't like about where I live are days like today when it's well over 100*. I despise the heat. A few years ago we went to a beer fest on the Sacramento river. It was only mid-May, but it was well over 100*. I tried to stay hydrated, didn't get to drink any beer, and ended up getting really sick and overheated and ever since my body can't handle the heat.
So on days like today, I like to take a trip to San Francisco Bay Area where it's generally around 30* cooler. But, when I can't make it to the bay, I try to stay indoors with the AC on and drink lots of cold water and iced tea.
On Saturday nights, it's time to relax and spend time with Dave and family and friends. One of my favorite drinks for a hot summer night is a mojito. The mint and lime are so refreshing. Unlike a margarita, the sweetness isn't (or shouldn't be) overpowering. Drinks that are too sweet usually make me feel sick to my stomach, especially when the thermometer has already exceeded 100* and keeps on rising.
|Strawberry mojitos at sunset|
Mojitos are a fairly involved drink to make, and you don't find them on too many bar menus. Often times when you do, they are made with so much sugar it just tastes like a glass of lime sugar.
A few years ago, I set out on a quest to make the perfect mojito. I researched recipes and found them to be pretty standard: mint, limes, simple syrup, white rum, and club soda. Some recipes use a lemon-lime soda, but that just adds way too much sweetness in my opinion.
I went to my local BevMo to get the ingredients and was disappointed to find out that almost every simple syrup is made from HFCS instead of real sugar. I did find one brand that was made out of real sugar, but it was very expensive for a small bottle. I knew that simple syrup had to be easy to make since it was just sugar water, and decided that I would make it on my own.
I started out by taking equal parts of organic sugar and water in a sauce pan. I brought it to a boil and stirred it until the sugar dissolved completely and a syrup formed. I then poured the syrup in a glass bottle and put it in the fridge to cool down.
The only down side to using the organic sugar is that it made a brown syrup instead of a clear syrup, but you won't notice it once you mix up your drink.
I love mjitos so much, I have a wine barrel planter dedicated to growing mint plants.
Start by washing your lime and cutting half of the lime into 4 wedges. Add the lime and about a dozen mint leaves into a glass (about 16 oz size glass).
Muddle the lime and mint together. I've read so many opinions on how long you need to muddle the lime and mint, anywhere from 10 twists of the muddler to 30 seconds. The goal is to release the juice from the lime and the oils from the lime peel and the mint leaves.
Next, you want to fill the glass about 2/3 of the way with crushed ice.
Add one shot of simple syrup...
...and one shot of white rum. Get the good stuff, skip the cheap crap in the pastic bottle. Your head and stomach will thank you the next morning.
Top off with club soda.
Stir. Add a straw and enjoy.
(You could also use a shaker and pour it into a fresh glass, but why dirty up extra dishes when you are at home?)
1/2 lime, cut into 4 wedges
12 mint leaves, removed from the stem
1.5 oz simple syrup
1.5 oz white rum
Muddle together mint and lime. Add crushed ice. Pour simple syrup and rum over the ice. Fill with club soda. Stir. Add a straw and serve immediately.